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TSSJS 2009: Kern promotes ''just enough'' software architecture

Team leaders should focus on providing 'just enough' early architecture guidance to developers, long-time software architect Jon Kern told attendees at TTSSJS.

Team leaders should focus on providing 'just enough' early architecture guidance to developers, long-time software...

architect Jon Kern told attendees at TheServerSide Java Symposium this week in Las Vegas.

Kern told the audience to gather enough requirements to begin architecture work – but not more than enough. Early 'releases' are important for gaining feedback on how the architecture will work, he added.

When faced with the need to build a new software architecture, said Kern, "the problem is one of balance."

"People can do an excessive amount of [architecting]," he said. The important thing is to get enough information to get started – but just enough."

It is important to understand you don't need to know everything, he told the architects and developers in the audience.

So-called Agile methods can help. ''I see agile as reducing the time between doing something and seeing the effect," said Kern, a co-author of the Agile Manifesto.

Among Kern's many credits: He joined Peter Coad in September 1999 to help launch TogetherSoft, maker of a very influential architectural tool that is now part of the Borland portfolio. He presently serves as Software Architect, Immuexa.

In the end, it is people and how they work together that spell success in software development, Kern indicated.

"Software is a very people-oriented thing. 'People, process and tools' is how I break down software. The real crucial thing is that I will take good people any day over process and tools. Good people will invent process and tools."

The importance of the ''people-side'' of software was also emphasized in remarks by TheServerSide Java Symposium keynote speaker Neal Ford, Software Architect, Thoughtworks. His presentation, entitled ''The Productive Developer: On the Lam from the Furniture Police,'' looked at the psychology of software development, with a few jabs at the people who control the developer's environment, but who are not developers themselves. These folks were originally immortalized as 'The Furniture Police' (people who move around chairs and desks to influence the socio-political bureaucracy within a corporation) in ''Peopleware'' by Tom DeMarco and Tim Lister.

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